The Ideational Foundations of Social Democratic Austerity in the Context of the Great Recession

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My article “The ideational foundations of social democratic austerity in the context of the Great Recession” jointly written with Sean McDaniel (University of Warwick) was just published by the Socio-Economic Review. The article is available here.


The ‘austerity settlement’ has come to define the post-crisis European political economy. Since 2010, parties from across Europe’s political mainstream have implemented austerity and despite the apparent conflict with the interests of their traditional constituents, even social democratic parties have acquiesced to this settlement. However, within the existing literature ‘social democratic austerity’ is currently under-theorized as it is assumed to involve a rather straightforward adaptation of social democrats to neo- and/or ordoliberal ideas. Utilizing rich and original evidence from over 60 elite interviews with key social democratic stakehold- ers in France, Germany and the UK, this article contests this view. It demonstrates instead that a distinct set of ideas based on New Keynesianism, supply-side economics, and the social investment paradigm provide the ideational foundations for social democratic austerity post-crisis. Understanding this, it is argued, is critical in order to fully appreciate how and why austerity has become dominant in post-crisis Europe.